This week our guest is Dr. Diana Denholm. She is the author of, “The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook” Caring For Your Seriously Ill Husband and Caring For Yourself.” When we are with loved ones who are dying, the day-to-day matters of your role in their care, your previous roles, your own self-care, your ongoing lives, household management, sleep, sex and intimacy, changes in and strains on your marriages, and current and future finances are all right in your face. Practical issues continue that require action on your part. Some require important communication between you and your loved ones or other family members. Which issues should you discuss or shouldn’t you discuss with your loved one? How do you sort out these issues? And then, how should you handle the issues themselves?
Dr. Denholm says, “As an adult, new challenges came my way. My husband, 16 years my senior, was very athletic and robust. A month after proposing marriage, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, with only a 20% survival possibility. Following surgery and chemo for a year, he not only survived, but after five years was deemed “cured”. A year or so after the cancer, he developed congestive heart failure. During his deterioration he was placed on transplant lists, and after declining severely for four more years, was fortunate to receive a heart transplant. Following the transplant, a variety of body systems began to fail due to the anti-rejection medications… During his final months, he could be up and about for several hours a day, with the majority of his time spent sleeping, at doctor’s appointments or on dialysis. There were many emergency room visits and ambulance rides due to heart failure, falls, bleed outs and other traumas…. Although he often was described as The Energizer Bunny, basically he was dying for over 11 1/2 years. On January 31, 2006 he made his transition.”